Pensions and the Military Covenant

This is a personal blog post and I should declare that I am an ex-serviceman although have not been impacted in any way by what I am about to discuss. I understand that not everyone is close to the military or feels quite the same way I do. However, I hope you will bear with me during this post as I explain a great injustice and how we might all help to ensure we are, as a nation, honouring the military pension for all service personnel.

Honouring The Military Covenant
I feel pretty deeply about this subject, given the ongoing conflicts throughout the world. Conflicts where servicemen and women do the bidding of our elected politicians in return for financial and pastoral support through what is termed the ‘Military Covenant’.

The armed forces covenant sets out the relationship between the nation, the state and the armed forces. It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the armed forces and their families and it establishes how they should expect to be treated.

It exists to redress the disadvantages that the armed forces community faces in comparison to other citizens and to recognise the sacrifices that they have made. At the local level, ‘community covenants’ are being signed across the country bringing military and civilian communities together. Our politicians are the guardians of the upkeep of this covenant.

Pensions are difficult and people need certaintyThe world of pensions can be pretty difficult to navigate. Despite our best intentions as wealth managers and financial planners the sheer volume of legislative changes, differing regimes, ‘simplification’ and overly complex product design mean that for far too many individuals saving for their retirement they do not manage to achieve what they had hoped for. For those in the military they have always expected that in return for service, often at great personal physical, emotional and mental cost, that they would receive a pension based upon their length of service. This remains true today so what is the problem?

The problem is that the ongoing restructuring of the armed forces, generally accepted as necessary if not massively popular with many within and related to the military, has thrown up an anomaly where checks are not being made to ensure that service personnel when served with redundancy notices are close to their normal retirement age and will not be massively disadvantaged in pension terms. This just strikes me as very wrong as some are losing hundreds of thousands of value. No-one joins the military for generous pay and packages but to remove large amounts of pension rights in this way is incredibly unjust. These are members of our society who have served and fought for our society in difficult, dangerous conditions that we can only imagine. The efforts that they have made over the last few years have been monumental since being committed to The Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan (and the many other trouble spots of the last decades such as Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone etc).

Politicians are not keen to act
Some politicians have picked up on this, particularly Lord Touhig, but The Treasury and The Ministry of Defence do not seem keen to act as they appear to see it as a small problem or anomaly affecting very few. This may be the case, I do not have the numbers, but in this type of situation, could we not as a nation see fit to commit to sorting this out? Despite numerous pleas from the personnel affected, and from members of Parliament, the Government has refused to review its policy decisions, despite being presented with clear evidence of the injustice and financial hardship it is causing.

Why get involved
Why do I want to get involved? I hate to see injustice of this type and I hope you do too. The Armed Forces are denied employment rights – they must rely on trust. Unlike other public servants they have no unions or appointed representatives to fight their cause but must rely on the Military Covenant to ensure that they are treated fairly by the Government of the day. They have accepted the redundancy decisions but why should they accept being treated so dishonourably?

Whilst I can bring some order to the retirement and pension planning of my civilian clients through the fog of confusion of successive governments it appears that, for the time being at least, that servicemen and women cannot do the same planning for themselves if this situation is allowed to continue.

Therefore, if you feel the way I do, I would be grateful if you could sign the Pension Justice for Troops petition found here and help restore order to the pension affairs of those service personnel affected.

If you do agree, please share this in any way you can. For those of you who use Twitter please follow @justice4forces and feel free to share this through Linked In, Facebook or any other social media outlet. If you have some spare time on your hands you could always write to any of these ministers of the UK Government to make your feelings known. You can share this post by using the social media sharing buttons below if you feel so inclined.

If you do not feel that you wish to get involved I completely understand, thank you for reading this.

Share:

8 thoughts on “Pensions and the Military Covenant

  • I have signed Lee (ex RAF), and I can see several other names I recognise have signed too.
    This is a really important issue

    Reply
  • Hi Lee
    I think I must be a bit slow today. Are you able to give an example of how those being made redundant re losing out?

    Reply
  • Good morning Philip, apologies for the slight delay in responding but I am currently travelling. There are two ways in which these service personnel lose out apart from losing their jobs via compulsory redundancy.

    They are being made redundant just short of their full service date at which point their pension and lump sum would have become immediately available. Under the scheme rules they will now have to wait until the NRD we are all entitled to. Secondly, and perhaps less critically, they will have both these figures reduced by the loss of service.

    As most service personnel are poorly paid their pensions are critical in later life to establish themselves in civilian life and they planned for a full pension at a full service point.

    It has been calculated that those affected will lose out on between £100,000 – £200,000 of entitlement each. More can be read by Lord Touhig at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/id201314/idhansard/text/131031-0002.htm#13103169000708 who has been arguing hard to little avail on their behalf.

    Thanks for your interest in supporting what has become known as ‘the warrior generation’ after the sacrifices made in the Balkans, NI, Sierra Leone, Gulf 1, Gulf 2 and Afghnistan.

    I hope you also find this treatment worthy of signing the petition to help them.

    Lee

    Reply
    • Thanks Lee
      I understand it now!
      I’ll be signing the petition.
      Who’s to blame – past governments for making commitments for future generations, without working out whether they can afford them, or the current government, for reneging on the promises others made for them?
      Democracy has a problem when one generation has been able to to mortgage the earnings of future generations.

      Reply
  • Thanks Fiona, it is really appreciated. You can follow the petition organiser and see how we are all getting on via twitter using @justice4forces . Please RT and publicise via your own networks too.

    Lee

    Reply
  • This is yet another example of a government (of whatever persuasion) thinking they can renege on a ‘covenant’ – which is a fancy word for a ‘promise of legal validity’ – by engaging in some intricate footwork and terminological inexactitudes. They way they have treated serving women (my mother was one), widows of former servicemen (mother again), Gurkhas (if they live in Nepal they got some recalculated number more appropriate to the cost of living there – go figure – and actually have to walk miles to physically collect their money) – and now this cynical money-saving fiasco, is just Situation Normal as far as I can see … which is fine if that’s how they want to play the game, but quit giving us (me being forces wife) all the tosh about a covenant when they wouldn’t recognise a covenant if it slapped them round the face with a dead mackerel!!

    Reply
  • Hi Gill, apologies for the delay in responding but been out of the country. A huge thanks for the support and for your genuine outline of the problems and your obvious insight and understanding of the issues.

    Reply
  • Philip, to answer your question I am not sure who is to blame as no past government has a great track record with supporting the pastoral needs of service personnel but with the growing support of this petition we might just force a rethink on this issue.

    Thanks again

    Lee

    Reply

Leave a Reply